Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007
Black South Carolinians aren't monolithic politically
SEPT. 23, 2007 - - You always hear that making assumptions
is something you don't want to do because they could come
back and haunt you.
For years, white politicians - - particularly Democrats -
- have made assumptions that black voters were some kind of
uniform group that could be counted on to act in a particular
way. In other words, they assumed year after year that blacks
would vote for Democrats.
A new poll of black South Carolinians by Winthrop University
and SCETV may shatter preconceived notions about black voters.
In short, the poll suggests blacks aren't a monolithic group
that behaves in one particular way.
you'd like to take a look at the full results of the
Winthrop/SCETV poll, click
"The assumption was blacks are uniformly liberal,"
said Scott Huffmon, who conducted the poll at Winthrop's Social
and Behavioral Research Lab. "No, they're not.
"There's a higher chance of a black South Carolinian
saying he is liberal than a white South Carolinian, but if
you speak to 1,000 African Americans here, only 121 are going
to say, 'I'm very conservative' and only 119 are going to
say, 'I'm very liberal.'"
In fact, one out of every three blacks in the state - some
31.5 percent - say they're very conservative or somewhat conservative.
A similar group of white South Carolina voters in an earlier
poll showed about half said they were very conservative or
somewhat conservative, Huffmon said.
The point, is, however, that black South Carolinians are
as different politically as whites, as several black leaders
"The white community is as diverse as any community
in the world," said the Rev. Dallas Wilson Jr., who pastors
in the poor Eastside area of Charleston. "The black community
is even more diverse."
Professor John Simpkins of the Charleston School of Law wasn't
particularly surprised by the poll's results. For years, he's
said the reason a Republican politician like Strom Thurmond
was able to attract black support was because his conservative
values appealed to a portion of the black electorate.
David Smalls, president of the Walterboro-Colleton County
Chamber of Commerce, said he found the poll results to be
interesting, but also not surprising.
"My experience is African Americans aren't as liberal
as people say, but they are moderate," he said. "On
some social issues, they are pretty conservative."
Among results of the poll:
- Abortion: 29 percent of black South Carolinians
said abortion should be illegal; 56 percent said it should
be legal only under certain circumstances.
- Homosexuality: 62 percent of blacks felt sex between
two adults of the same sex was strongly unacceptable.
- Interracial marriage: 63 percent of blacks thought
interracial marriage was strongly acceptable.
- Bush: 90 percent disapprove of President George
W. Bush's handling of the Iraq war.
- War: 84 percent believe there should be a timetable
to withdraw troops from Iraq.
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Interestingly, 67 percent of black South Carolinians said
they were Democratic, while only 3 percent said they were
Republican. But more than half said they thought the national
and state Democratic parties had taken black voters for granted.
About the same number said the GOP was working to attract
Why black voters tend to vote for Democrats over Republicans
may do more with specific issues, such as political approaches
to education, the Iraq War or government's role in society.
But Smalls said he could see how conservative politicians
could make inroads in the black community by appealing to
issues on which they tended to be conservative.
Bottom line: Because blacks aren't monolithic, politicians
of all stripes shouldn't assume they can't win black votes.
Republicans have opportunities they're not tapping. And if
Democrats don't treat black voters as a diverse constituency,
they could lose what has been a strong base.
Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report,
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red dot stores
phenomenon that piques the curiosity of both visitors and
lifelong residents: why do South Carolina liquor stores display
red dot? The answer lies in a heated battle between drys and
wets that developed when liquor sales became legal again in
1935 after Prohibition. During the ensuing decade, those selling
booze, diehard Prohibitionists and the State Tax Commission
(given the task of regulating this revived trade) wrangled
constantly over on-site advertising.
the red dots on this liquor store in Pickens County.
No other sign indicates the store sells liquor.
Storefront ads so infuriated Upcountry drys that in 1938
authorities decreed that only a discreet "Retail Liquor
Dealer" sign could be displayed. Seven years later, they
decided to reduce any such sign to letters only a few inches
high placed in the lower right-hand corner of a display window
or on the front door. Liquor stores of that era had no back
Statehouse Report has partnered with USC
Press to provide readers with an interesting weekly
historical excerpt about the state. Each excerpt, which
is used with permission and not for republication, is
taken from The
South Carolina Encyclopedia, a 1,077-page book
published in 2006 with entries by almost 600 contributors
and edited by noted historian Walter Edgar. We hope
you enjoy this new feature.
Under these circumstances, Jesse J. Fabian, a successful
Charleston liquor dealer, hired "Doc" Wansley to
create a legal sign for one of his shops. When it was completed,
Wansley realized that few would notice such minuscule lettering
and, inspired by a design then found on every pack of Lucky
Strike cigarettes, drew a bright red circle around his masterpiece.
Thus was born South Carolina's famous red dot.
These now-familiar circles grew and prospered until January
1968, when the ABC suddenly ruled that these constituted advertising
and should be banished from the landscape. The General Assembly
voted instead to save the dot, although members agreed that
on each exterior wall of a store, there could be only one
dot, not to exceed 36 inches in diameter. These subsequent
rules have been relaxed somewhat, but into the 21st century,
the red dot remained a faithful beacon for those seeking liquor,
as well as a warning sign for those determined to avoid it.
-- Entry by John H. Moore, The
South Carolina Encyclopedia
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
9/18: State needs affordable medical help, birth control
To Statehouse Report:
It's more than just teaching kids the facts in school (Commentary,
9/9). We as a state also need to make safe affordable
medical help and birth control available to our teenagers.
It's a shame that there are only 2 Planned Parenthood clinics
in our state.
As a young college student I relied on Planned Parenthood
for affordable gynecological check ups and birth control.
Planned Parenthood has a long tradition of providing safe
and affordable much needed medical help and birth control
to sexually active women and men for that matter. The abortion
debate has demonized this proud organization and made it damn
near impossible to fund raise or establish clinics in areas
where they could be most effective including Greenville-Spartanburg
and the rural areas of SC.
-- Roxanne Walker, Greenville, S.C. (See
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